tv MSNBC Live MSNBC December 8, 2012 11:00am-2:00pm PST
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what's it going to take to keep the government on track and keep the nation from going off the rails? we'll talk about that. plus, the push for marriage equality could get a huge lift from the high court. we'll examine what's next for those who want to see same-sex marriage become the law of the land. meanwhile, in egypt, they are just trying to get a functioning government off the ground. we'll go live to cairo where along with tear gas the words in the air today are martial law. first, though, some developing news from south africa where nelson mandela is in the hospital right now. the former president is undergoing medical tests. that's according to the government. these tests have been planned for some time, we're told. they are consistent with his age. he is 94 years old. a family friend not saying how long mandela will be hospital iced, but a government spokesman insists there's, quote, no cause for alarm. mandela spent some time in the hospital earlier this year.
he had stomach surgery. he became a bona fide world icon after spending some 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid. in 1994, he became president of the country where he had been imprisoned. to the fiscal cliff now. the clock continues to tick away. lawmakers now have just 24 days left to make a deal and avoid that combination of big tax hikes and drastic spending cuts that could hit the economy hard. today we are hearing more from both the president and from republicans. with me now, nbc news white house correspondent mike viqueira. viq, does there appear to be any progress? >> reporter: i don't think so, craig, and we're watching it pretty closely. we thought perhaps after yesterday there would be. but this morning in his weekly address the president says no compromise. those top late rates for the w will raise one way or the other, but the wiggle room may be raise by how much.
visiting a d.c.-area diner, vice president joe biden said if the gop were willing, the debt deal could be done in short order. >> it would take 15 minutes from the time the decision was made by the speaker of the house to pass and make permanent the middle-class tax cut. the president would probably have me sprint up to the hill to bring the bill down for him to sign. >> reporter: but even after the latest in a series of private calls with the president, house speaker john boehner says the white house is stone walling. >> when it comes to the fiscal cliff that's threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the white house is has wasted another week. >> reporter: this morning in his weekly address, president obama is holding a hard line on raising rates for the wealthy. >> and if we're serious about protecting middle-class families, then we're also going to have to ask the wealthiest americans to pay higher tax rates. that's one principle i won't compromise on. >> reporter: but how much higher could be the key. the top tax rate is set to rise from 35% to 39.6% on january
1st. when asked if a middle ground could be found, both boehner and biden showed some wiggle room. >> the top brackets have to go up. it's not a negotiable issue. theoretically we can negotiate how far up. >> reporter: at another local restaurant, the owner has seen enough of washington gridlock. >> i wish those lawmakers would get their [ bleep ] together and get it done and try to help everybody. it would be good if they could do it before the holidays are over. >> reporter: craig, as someone who spent some time in river city here in washington, i wanted to show you this. these are the inaugural stands right on pennsylvania avenue, right in front of the white house. i'm looking at them and listening to them right now. they've been going up pretty steadily. these guys work around the clock. january 21st, the president is going to be marching past the white house to live here for another four years. now, about the fiscal cliff, john boehner's in town. that's relatively rare for him to stay in town on the weekend. the president was here, but there were meetings yesterday. nancy pelosi came in and out. no one saw her.
we thought reading the tea leaves maybe there would be some movement. there was some movement. the president is playing golf. haven't seen hide nor hair of john boehner. >> mike viqueira, thank you, good sir. for more insight into where all of this is headed and whether there could be a breakthrough, i'd like to bring in david jackson, white house reporter for "usa today," and the politics writer for "roll call." appreciate your time. david, what's your sense right now? how far apart are the two sides? >> i think they're closer than a lot of people think because as mike just mentioned the dispute the size of the tax increase on the wealthy. both sides have said they want to negotiate what that rate may be. as far as the republicans are concerned, they want more commitment from the white house for spending cuts particularly on entitlement programs like social security and medicare. one thing mike talked about the fact we haven't heard much from any of these guys the last few days. i think it's a relatively good
sign. we know the president and john boehner have talked but they won't say what about. it's like a code of silence has descended on the white house. the fact we're not hearing much about what's being said is probably a good sign. >> you mentioned some entitlement reforms and social security. a lot of the democrats that i've had on this program have said social security is not on the table at all. means testing, medicare, something entirely different. are you hearing that social security might be something that's also included in the fiscal cliff deal? >> well, i'm hearing the democrats want to block that. they don't want the social security part of the deal. but the republicans are kind of insisting on it. that puts the white house in kind of a difficult position. that's one of the many issues holding up this deal right now. >> the political leverage in all of this, of course, some head pulling, indicating republicans would bear most of the blame if we go over the so-called cliff. last week's survey found that 21% of americans would blame president obama and the democrats. 23% say they would blame the republicans. 52% would be annoyed with both parties equally. is it really clear at this point
who would be blamed? >> i think the -- >> i'm sorry. excuse me. >> it's okay. i think members of congress bear the brunt of this, especially the house. they're going to be the odd man out. i think in the end voters, if the deal does not happen, the house will carry a lot of blame for it. >> two member numbers very imp 39.6%, 35%. the president would like 39.6%. i want both of you to take a listen to something speaker boehner said friday in response to a question about raising tax rates. take a listen. >> can you see some way that you could agree to tax rate increase and protect small businesses at the same time, maybe going with the 37% or some middle ground on -- >> there are a lot of things
that are possible. to put the revenue the president seeks on the table. but none of it's going to be possible if the president insists on his position, insists on my way or the highway. >> david, there you have it, speaker boehner saying there are a lot of things possible. later, though, hiss office seemed to back off, clarifying that he is against raising tax rates. what do you make of this? >> well, i think you have to show some sign of flexibility just as the white house has on the question of how large this supposed tax increase may be. the republicans say we can raise the same amount of revenue by closing off tax deductions and loopholes and that's their position. but you have to wonder if they won't gave little ground on the actual tax rates given the polling numbers you just saw. another thing to remember in terms of speaker boehner is once he agrees, he has to get the entire house to agree, and that's not going to be easy. >> shira, david says it's not going to be easy, but it seems
as if speaker boehner may have figured out to wrangle this herd of wet cats he has to deal with on a regular basis. no? >> it's still a difficult group to deal with. let's remember this is a lame-duck session pap lot of these members are about to leave, which in some ways makes it easier for him to negotiate with republican who just lost re-election and the eight or so seats. on the other hand, he still has a very diverse caucus in terms of ideology and it's going to be very difficult. you'll notice in hiss comments he didn't say no to 37%. that said, if he agreed to 37% and he's basically bilateral talks with the president, who says the kwaux is going to approve that. he could end up with a lot of egg on his face if he agrees with the president on this, they go forward with the vote, and it doesn't pass. >> david, the office of management and budget, omb, asking government agencies to figure out what they would cut if we do go over this fiscal cliff. talking a trillion dollars in cuts over ten years. that would mean furloughs for some federal workers, slower
hiring, outside contracting, the closer we get to the cliff, the more real it begins to seem. how does that then change the negotiations? >> well, i think it's all part of the political pressure the white house is trying to apply to the congressional republicans. we saw the same thing in '11 when we had the near government shutdown and the dispute over the debt ceiling. the closer we get to the debt line, the white house starts talking act what kind of specific impact this would have. in terms of the fiscal cliff, higher taxes on everybody. one thing that will happen without an agreement, all the bush tax rates go away, so everyone's taxes are going to go up. you'll see that emphasized over the next couple weeks. you'll hear the white house talk about what a bad situation there will be after january 1 if this deal is not cut. >> david jackson, "usa today," shira toeplitz, "roll call." we appreciate your time so much we'll talk to you later in the hour as well. >> thank you. the last remaining house race of the 2012 election cycle is pabt to come to a close. in louisiana, republican congressman charles boustany
jr., jeff landry facing off in a runoff election. they were forced to run in the same district in bayou because of the state's shrinking congressional delegation. both conservative republicans, landry a tea party freshman. we'll keep you abreast of what happens. meanwhile, high drama about to surround the high court as the justices agree to take on the high-stakes issue of same-sex marriage. ♪ the man with that most-watched youtube video of all time due to perform for the president in a few hours. but why is ps glshgs hy in hot ? first tax rates versus entitlements. which budges first? we'll talk it over. ♪ the weather outside is frightful ♪
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well, this isn't a progress report because there's no progress to report. when it comes to the fiscal cliff that's threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the white house has wasted another week. >> this is a moment of truth. the clock is ticking. christmas is coming. the goose is getting fat. but in many homes across america, it ee's a very, very l time. >> the goose is getting fat. haven't heard that before. that was speaker john boehner and house minority leader nancy pelosi. they're reacting to yesterday's jobs numbers and the looming fiscal cliff crisis with neither side eager to budge or make
concessions. the big question, can they come to an agreement before time runs out or will they take huge risks by cliff diving on december 31st. congressman allison schwartz is a ranking member on the house budget committee which will of course play a crucial role in these fiscal cliff negotiations. she has come in for us on a saturday afternoon. we do appreciate your time. >> good to be here. >> thanks for being here. there's a possibility of some major changes to entitlement spending by the end of these fiscal cliff negotiations. it looks like democratic leaders are right now warming to the idea of raising medicare premiums for wealthier people. you in the past have been somewhat outspoken in terms of your opposition to the idea of altering entitlements in a dramatic way. are you changing your tune? >> no. however, i will say this. we have taken seriously the fact that we have an obligation to our seniors, that medicare has worked for millions, almost 450
million americans, seniors mostly but disabled. and we want to start the discussion about medicare with the promise we are going to keep medicare and find a way to contain the rate of growth in costs under medicare and all health care been helpful. >> sure. >> but we'll meet that obligation to our seniors. that's where i think we start. >> it sounds like you are open to the idea, then, of some tweaks to medicare, to some tweaks to entitlements for revenue. >> my conditions are -- and i think this is true for most democrats -- is that we maintain the universality of medicare, all seniors being eligible, and that we maintain the benefits under medicare. and the fact is i also think that we've actually begun to do some serious work on delivery system reform, where we are proposing to pay doctors differently from medicare so we reward quality and efficiency and improved outcome for seniors, reduce the costs that way, patient safety in hospitals. this is not insignificant money.
but we probably need some more revenues coming into it as well and there are a variety of ways to do that. we haven't really started to have a serious discussion about how to do it. there are some discussions. >> we're running out of time to have a serious discussion. go ahead. >> i was going to say what we need to do -- and you're right, we only have a couple weeks here, we need to make some decisions. start with having an agreement, yet to have a solid agreement from the republicans about yes, we'll do spending cuts, president, democrats have already put out over a trillion dollars of spending cuts to talk about, we need to have revenues on the table. >> $1.6 trillion? >> as close to that as we can come, absolutely. >> what are you hearing about the negotiations right now? i mean, i often feel like obviously, you know, there is a tremendous gap between the chest thumping that we see on television and what's happening behind the scenes. are you hearing that a deal is near? >> no. >> oh. >> yes, you're right, you were going to say maybe there are some real conversations going on that we're not telling anybody
about. i think those things do play out. i think we're at that moment where i believe, many of us believe we have to reach some agreement before the end of the year, make sure that middle-class families don't see their taxes go up. that will affect 90% of americans as you know. we should make an agreement on that, the wealthiest 2 persian of americans have to pay more taxes on income above $250,000. that's the starting point of discussions. we have medicare, medicaid we have to make sure is sustainable for the future. my understanding is that those -- the detailed discussions that have to happen to get there are not yet really under way. they need to. we're probably at this point -- i hope we do something, we have to do something. we might have to leave some of the bigger-picture tax reform, discussions about medicare -- >> we'll have to kick the can down the road. >> i don't think we should. >> sounds like that's what you're saying. >> we have to do some of the
decisions about taxes and revenue right now. we can't get to the end without making those decisions. >> before i let you get out of here, i have to ask you about this report obviously that was in the "philadelphia inquirer." you are one of 17 or 18 congressmen, congress people in pennsylvania. you're the only woman. and now there are rumors that you're running for governor. would you like to take this opportunity to discuss? >> no. but i do think it shows how sort of hungry so many not just democrats but pennsylvanians are for someone who will do the right thing for the state. >> you've given that answer a few times. >> it's the right answer for you. >> how are you going to decide whether to run? >> i'm very engaged in what we're doing, i want to work out details on tax reform and medicare and growing the middle class, grow the economy, be the great country we are. and, you know, i'm proud that lots of people think i'm doing a good job and i want to keep doing it. >> we'll have to leave it there. congresswoman allison schwartz,
who has successfully once again managed to sidestep the question of whether she's reasoning for governor. when you're ready to announce, come back and do it on a saturday afternoon on msnbc. >> we'll let you know. coming up, we flash back to the famous day of infamy speech. 71 years ago today. what came after the start of the greatest generation? first, though, south carolina's governor taking on stephen colbert on facebook. that could be you. all over facebook and all over the state trivia and the race for the latest va can senate seat in the palmetto state. actually humorous. when it involves south carolina, it usually is. [ male announcer ] rocky had no idea why dawn was gone for so long... ...but he'd wait for her forever, for any reason, and would always be there with the biggest welcome home.
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about any conditions, such as kidney, liver or bleeding problems. ready to change your routine? ask your doctor about once-a-day xarelto®. for more information including cost support options, call 1-888-xarelto or visit goxarelto.com. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] everyone deserves the gift of all day pain relief. this season, discover aleve. all day pain relief with just two pills. the supreme court says it's getting ready to take on the issue of same-sex marriage. whatever they decide is bound to be history making.
coming up, i'll talk to a top constitutional scholar about what the justices face and what lit mean for america. former governor charlie crist finally decided which party line he will toe. he's now a democrat. he tweeted this picture showing him holding his new voter registration form alongside his wife there. it was taken at a visit to the white house, chris saying he is proud and honored to join the democratic party in the home of president barack obama. earlier this year he endorsed the president for re-election. chris became the governor of florida as a republican then ran for the u.s. senate as an independent but lost. now to this. ♪ >> south korean singing sensation psy gears up for a
huge performance this weekend. there are no revelations about anti-american -- this anti-american rap song they did a few years back. the song "dear american" includes lyrics like kill those blanking yankees who have been torturing iraqi captives, kill their mothers, daughters, mothers-in-law, fathers. psy has since apologized saying the 2004 rap was protesting the killing of a south korean hostage by iraqi insurgents. but psy will still perform at the christmas in washington concert this weekend where president obama and the first family will be looking on. and senator stevphen colbert? south carolina governor nikki haley says that ain't happening. the palmetto state resident said he'd like to replace the outgoing representative. he explained why he'd be a great senator. the governor was not moved. her season? what she called stephen
colbert's, quote, big, big mistake. >> what's the state drink? >> there's a state drink? >> it's milk. i didn't realize my state was so boring. >> that's right. it's milk. i'm from palmetto state. we are a simple, pure people. up next, someone who's actually on the short list to become south carolina's next senator to replace outgoing senator jim deminlt. he's an old friend of the show. he'll join us next. we'll see if we can get him to announce his intention run. next hour, new signs from hillary clinton that running for president could be in her future. [ woman ] too weak.
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some new details surrounding the tragic turn of the royal radio hoax. right now a memorial grows for the nurse who took the prank call about kate, the duchess of cambridge, and later turned up dead. in a letter to the radio station responsible, the hospital said in part, "to discover that not only had this happened but that the call had been prerecorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station's management was truly appalling." right now police in london are calling the death, quote, unexplained. the nurse leaves behind two teenaged children. the two dee jays who pulled that stunt are off the air indefinitely. i'm craig melvin. here's a quick look at some of the other top stories making news. egyptian officials arrested a suspect in the consulate attack in libya. intelligence sources say the man is a member of the militant group and escaped from prison in the aftermath of the libyan revolution. at this point it's not clear
what role if any he may have played in the attack that killed four americans including ambassador chris stephens. new revelations in the case of a man accused of pushing a man into the path of a new york subway. he told police he was hearing voices and was high on marijuana at the time. but the man says he did not mean to kill anyone. it was just an argument that went way too far. and president obama may be gearing up for a new battle with congress this time over sandy relief money. the president asked congress to approve more than $60 billion for the hardest hit states, but a democratic aide tells nbc news they expect a fight with some republicans who may demand offsets to cover the funds. to our political war room now. south carolina republican senator jim demint stealing the spotlight this week with his sudden resignation, sparking a lot of speculation about who might replace him. so who will it be and what will demin's departure mean for the
gop? and it might not be the only shake-up within the republican party as rnc chairman reis up f e election as well. alex fini and caton dawson, as well. former chairman of the south carolina republican party, former adviser to the rick perry campaign. good to have you both on this saturday afternoon. before we get to the discussion, let me go ahead and address the big elephant in the room, kate dawson. you told reporters at the hill that you would be open to filling the seat that's being left vacant by senator jim demint. has the governor approached you? has she called you? >> craig, i put your name in the hat this morning.
i remember when you carried a camera all over south carolina on your shoulder. you along with 1.2 million other people have asked for that job. governor hailey is going to make a solid pick. it's her choice, her constitutional duty. she doesn't let all the noise get all around her, craig. i feel confident it will be a fairly quick pick, one that resembles south carolina and she'll move forward doing the business of the state. we'll have a new senator whether they run again in 2014, 2016. it did complicate a lot of people's political ambitions but certainly campaigning for that would be a mistake with governor hailey. she'll make a solid pick. we're proud of the job that jim deminlt did for us. came in first thing this morning. >> i appreciate that. thank you so much. i want to bring you in but i want to get katon dawson to answer my question. if she asked, would you say yes? yes or no. >> again, craig, there's not many people who have done politics in south carolina that understand the role of a united
states senator for this -- >> you've rehearsed a lot. all right. >> he's too much of a professional. you're not going to get an answer. >> we'll move on. >> thank you. >> with a, of the way, karen finney, this is senator lindsay braham graham's reaction to jim demint's resignation. take a listen. >> i met with jim demint this morning and to say i was stunned is an understatement. he has always been a friend, somebody i could count on. personally, we've really enjoyed our time together. and i just -- i was stunned this morning. >> stunned he may have been karen, but if somebody was standing by he probably would have high fived him because there was a good chance he was going to get pry married in the palmetto state. "the washington post" points out he was one of the poorest senators in 2010 so we knew he
would be financially stable. how big of a blow is his departure and what should we expect down the road from the heritage foundation with jim demint at its hell snm. >> the first thing i would say is with his departure i think it does show sort of the diminishing role and potentially the influence of the tea party inside congress. but jim demint is a movement conservative. so moving to the heritage foundation he'll have to i think compete with the likes of grover norquist for the unelected leader of the republican party, because i think we'll hear from him and see a lot from him. i mean, you know, he may not have always picked candidates, thinking of murdoch and aiken, who won, but i would expect to see him continue to try to push the republican party, you know, as he did on the inside similarly from the outside using, you know, sort of the tools and the levers that the heritage foundation affords. i would just -- i would like to put in a plug for katon.
i don't want to worry your chans so i'm going to resist giving my own endorsement, but you would be a wonderful addition inside republican party for voice of reason. >> look at that, katon dawson. take that the governor and see how much it helps you. >> karen just doomed my chances of winning because we don't agree on anything. i'm telling you, i put craig melvin's flame name in first th this morning. >> i'll say you're so unreasoning. >> i want you to speculate with me for a second. if it's not you, who else could it be down there? there are a lot of folks who think it could be tim scott, the little country congressman tea party favorite. it would allow the governor to say she appointed the only black senator in the entire u.s. senate. if it's not you, who else is a front runner? >> certainly the list is long. tim scott is a remarkable personal story, and karen understands this, when you do
politics in the state, you make a lot of friends. and right now there are a lot of qualified people. tim scott just got on ways and means. insiders understand the importance of that to a state. he certainly has rock star status here regardless of what happens. good pick, former attorney general, former county governor. there is a long bench of republican conservatives here that want that. and the governor's going to have her pick. you know, we'll just see how that plays out. i think she's going to do it pretty quick. i think it'll be interesting to see what they do for 2014, because now lindsey's got a seat up and lindsey's tough as a tiger electorally, but that does -- and let me mix this in, karen. that moves presidential primary politics quicker, too. we're going to see the players coming earlier. two u.s. senate seats there. >> that's correct. >> a conservative state. craig, you've worked here before. so it really took christmas by surprise for political
operatives and people in the business because the 16 cycle just starred with jim deminlt's announcement. >> karen finney, before i let you get out of here, i want to ask you about impressive vus. you've got to think he's got to have a tough argument to make considering what happened at the ballot box. what do you think happens? >> well, you saw last week he went -- i believe it was up to new york to meet with donors. i would expect you'll see more of that in terms of his conversations with donors and other influentials within the party and i'm sure he's going about the process of counting volts. you have j.c. watts, kind of former congressman, out there kind of seemingly testing the walters. i think the pressure is certainly on chairman priebus. i think he's got to go and make a case for a vision for the party. one of the things that i give my former boss, howard dean, former vermont governor chairman of the party credit for is he came in as chairman and said here's my vision for how he we organize
our party from the grassroots up. itch heard that kind of talk from priebus. that's the kind-vision i think you need to hear. >> karen finney, senator katon dawson, a big thanks to both of you on this saturday afternoon. katon, if it happens we expect you to come back on and announce it on this air. have a great saturday. ten seconds. go. ten seconds. go. >> the rnc race, that's one i've been in before. rens priebus is a friend. he's got it. that's an inside baseball deal. that race is over in my opinion. he's got it. that's an inside baseball deal. that race is over in my opinion. >> i sure have enjoyed you two. >> see you, karen. >> take care. up next, the supreme court set to take on same-sex marriage. who could be the swing vote? not a tough guess. we'll talk to one of the nation's leading experts on the high kwourt. plus hillary clinton set to testify before congress about the deadly attacks in libya. what might her appearance mean for her potential 2016 presidential campaign?
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a day that will live in infamy. >> following that speech 71 years ago today, america entered world war ii. the speech was given before a join session of congress and immediately afterward congress voted for rug declaring war on japan and germany. back to present-day politics, we now know that the u.s. supreme court plans to dive into one of the most talked about and emotional issues of our age. whether same-sex couples have the right to marry. the high court is taking on two
cases, one involving the federal defense of marriage act, or d doma, and another involving california's proposition 8, banning same-sex marriages in that state. for analysis into these historic cases, what's going to be a historic hearing, i want to bring in kinji yoshityoshito, professor of constitutional law at new york city. great to see you. >> good to see you. >> put prop 8 aside for a second. do you believe that the supreme court will strike down doma. this is what what you've said. walk me through your thinking on that one. >> y bet. so doma is a really narrow challenge insofar as what the statute does is it says for federal purposes marriages are defined between one man and one woman. so i think it might be best to clarify this by example. so you take edie windsor, a plaintiff coming out of new york who's going to be the plaintiff in this case. she was with another woman for 40 years. they got married in 2007. when her partner passed away,
her wife passed away, for state purposes, in the eyes of new york state, she was next of kin. so her remains were released to edie. but for federal purposes, they were complete legal strangers, so they got hit -- she got hit with $363,000 of federal estate taxes, which she would not have had to pay if her wife had been her husband instead. so what the federal defense of marriage act does is that it is a very strange intrusion in 1996 into the domain of marriage law, which has traditionally been state law. the practice in general is that whatever a state says is a marriage, the federal government will respect. in 1996, the congress upended that the status quo and said the states don't get to decide whether or not same-sex marriage in their state will be recognized by a federal government. the federal definition is no longer going to follow the state definition. >> that's doma. prop 8 out in california, the
ban on same-sex marriage there, you think that could go either way. >> yeah. well, i'm cautiously hopeful and i think a better way of saying it would be to say that i'm hopeful but i think that it's going to be a narrow decision. so the reason that this is a riskier case, so to speak, is because this actually goes to state definitions of marriage. so if doma gets struck down, all that means is is that the federal government will now go back to tracking whatever the state's definition of marriage is. but if prop 8 gets struck down, the court, if i goes really broad, could say all 41 states that don't have same-sex marriage now have to have same-sex marriage so now you have same-sex marriage in utah and alabama. i just don't think that's going to happen. i think they're going to take a more narrow solution that finds a weigh station in between saying same-sex marriage is required constitutionally in zero states and required in 50 states and we can talk through what those options might be if you want. >> most court watchers suspect,
as has been the case here, frequently with this court it seems that justice kennedy will be the swing vote, will be the deciding vote. what can we glean from his record that might give us some insight into how he might vote with regards to these two cases? >> it's a great question. so with a doma case, it's like justice kennedy's most favorite things. because justice kennedy loves state power. >> loves state's rights. ? and he loves gay rights because of the 1996 case and the 2003 case, both of which he authored the opinion that upheld the rightings of lgbtv individuals. the doe ma case is like the perfect convergence of those two strands so, that's why i'm so confident about the doma case because it's a state's rights case in the sense that the federal government is meddling with the state definitions of marriage. with respect to the prop 8 case, i think again kennedy, because of these two cases i mentioned, is likely to be sympathetic but may be incremental. he may say something along the lines of one state or eight
states have to flip. i don't think he'll flip all 41. >> we always appreciate your valuable insight. we hope you'll stick around for the next few months and continue to provide that as we wade through what is undoubtedly going to be a fairly complex case, as well. good saturday to you, sir. thank you for your time. >> to you as well. there have been arrests in egypt in connection with the deadly september 11th attack on the u.s. embassy in libya. we'll get the latest live from cairo. first, though, will she or won't she? we like to play this game frequently on the weekends here. speculation machine is in overdrive. lashawn's got her christmas list. she's looking for a fijit at toys "r" us. let's see if we can get the same item at walmart for less? ay. fijit friends. fifteen bucks on rollback. wow! that's a savings of over 29 bucks! twenty-nine bucks!!?? and they're powered by friendship. see for yourself if you could save on the brands you want.
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and i'm frankly looking forward to returning to living a life that enjoys a lot of simple pleasures and gives my time for family and friends and other pursuits. >> oh, how cagey. secretary of state hillary clinton saying this week that she's focused on her work and not thinking at all about running for the white house in 2016. well, turns out a lot of democratic voters are thinking about it. a new poll shows that 61% of democrats would support her. that's followed by joe bide within 12% and governor andrew cuomo at 5% and senator elect elizabeth warren at 4%. shira toeplitz, politics staff writer for "roll call." david jackson joining us. thanks for coming back. hillary clinton has to be aware of all this support. where do you think that the secretary stands right now? >> well, as she said, she wants to take some time off, perhaps hopefully get a grandchild,
really unwind. she said in a couple interviews now. but she's done nothing to tamp down speculation at all that she could run again in four years. and in politics, unless you issue a sherman-esque statement absolutely no and say those kinds of words, it's not really a no. it's a maybe. >> sherman-esque statement. david, let me bring you in because one of the things we heard from secretary clinton this week was her defensive viewing of ambassador susan rice who continues to come under fire from some republicans for comments she made on the attack in the u.s. consulate in benghazi. take a listen. >> susan rice has done a great job as our u.n. ambassador. she has been a stalwart colleague in a lot of the tough decisions that we've had to make. and certainly with respect to defending our national interests and national security at the united nations. >> so clinton is also going to testify on benghazi next week. what are the politics of all of
this for secretary clinton? and are there risks for her here? >> i don't think there are necessarily risks for her here as long as she stays out of the whole fray of susan rice and congressional republicans. there's an awful lot going on on that score, but i tnk hillary clinton may be able to keep herself above all that. by the way, we keep expecting the white house for this rice situation to be resolved. we fully expect president clinton to make -- excuse me, president obama to make his announcement about his national security team any day now. >> what do you hear with regards to that, david? are you hearing that susan race is going -- susan rice is going to get the nod or that the waters are shark infested and -- >> complete silence. i think it's between susan rice and john kerry. i think the ultimate decision will be made by the president himself and he's keeping his own council abthat. he's alleges got the cia slot to fill as well. there are rumors there may be changes on his national security team. but nobody is being very specific about it at this point.
>> shira, just the optics of the gop engaged in -- in a days-long filibuster with regards to susan rice, attacking susan rice for days. is that a fight that they want to pick? >> you'd think they wouldn't want to pick this fight, especially when there are other well-qualified people who want to be secretary of state such as john kerry, the senator of massachusetts, has made no secret at all that this is a position he's wanted far really long time. so you think this would not be a battle the white house would pick. but obviously the president has a lot of loyalty to susan rice. his defense of her a couple weeks ago from the podium was really unique and frankly defensive. so if this is who he wants, he has every right to nominate her and the senate has every right to say no. >> david, before i let you guys get out of here, i had katon dawson on a few minutes ago. saturdays we like to engage in speculation a fair amount. he didn't say whether he would take a nod from governor hailey
for that senate seat. if you were a betting man, who would you bet that the governor gives the nod to that jim demint senate seat? >> i'm also a south carolina native so i have a bit of a stake in this. >> i knew i liked you. >> i made some calls. my money i ges would be on tim scott if you made me bet on it. >> how about you, shira? >> yeah. tim scott as well i think is a smart move politically for nikki haley to appoint him to the senate. >> david jackson, "usa today" and a fellow south carolinian i just found out. >> gamecocks. >> shira, are you from south carolina as well? >> no. i'm from pittsburgh. >> that's close enough. >> great town. >> shira toeplitz from "roll call," thanks to you both. coming up, what will the president of egypt's power grab mean for the country called the cultural center of the arab world? a live report from cairo. plus, up in smoke. the feds getting ready far showdown with washington state after voters there decide to legalize lighting up. [ male announcer ] this is sheldon, whose long dy setting up the news
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that's what may help lower your cholesterol and -- well that's easy [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. good saturday afternoon to you. i'm craig melvin. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. 24 days until we go off that so-called fiscal cliff. and the tit for tat between the house leadership and the white house shows no signs of letting up. we'll see what congressman connie mack of florida has to say about all of it in his exit interview. meanwhile, it's high times in washington state where you can light up without fear of arrest. but how long will it last? and we're also watching a developi situation in south africa this afternoon where nelson man dell is la is in the hospital. we'll have an update on his condition. we start in egypt where there are new developments in the power struggle that started with p mohamed morsi's grab for new
powers. we're there with details. ayman, we got word there were some considerations there to issue a new koconstitutional declaration of some sort. what can you tell us about all this? >> reporter: sure. it's important to set what triggered these protests two weeks ago, a constitutional declaration by president morsi that was seen as a power grab, gave him sweeping powers through the transitional period. it triggered protests. one of the central demands of the protesters and the opposition to the president has been that he rescind that dec e decree. for the past several days the p president has been trying to figure out a way to kind of minimize the scope of that decree. i has not worked. it has not pleased the opposition. today he met with some of the opposition forces, and what we're learning from egyptian state television, an official government news source, is that the prime minister has suggested that the president is considering a new constitutional
declaration and perhaps in light of that new constitutional declaration he would mitigate some of the new powers that he has assumed and perhaps meet the demands of the protesters on this one central issue, craig. >> and this presumably would be in direct response to the tens of thousands of protesters that we have seen behind you over the past ten days? >> reporter: absolutely. there's no doubt about it. the protesters have said that the presidential decree that was issued on november 22nd was a power grab, it allowed him to make legislation without any type of judicial reviews, and that his decisions were final until a new constitution, a larger constitution, was officially r lly ratified. what we're now learning is perhaps after a meeting with opposition today and in the face of political pressure and isolation the president could be backtracking on some of the powers he granted himself in that declaration. we'll certainly more lly learn t it in the coming hours if there is an official statement. we're learning only from
egyptian state media, the government-controlled news media in cairo. >> in regards to the scene that's been behind you unfolding, what has that been like, you know, today versus a week ago today? >> reporter: well, today it's relatively peaceful. it has been really since wednesday. tuesday and wednesday earlier this week those were the violent protests. what had happened was the protesters initially marched from tahrir square to the presidential pal latsz, camped out there. but supporters of president morsi came and that's when the confrontation began. that's what led the military to deploy around the presidential palace on wednesday. today the military was erecting concrete barriers outside the presidential palace to make sure that a similar scene does not repeat itself. but the protesters are still camped out very much define, very much adamant that they will stay outside the presidential palace until the president meets all of their demands, including this declaration and building and writing a new constitution with a broader national
consensus, not one that just favors the islamists in power. craig? >> ayman mohyeldin with some breaking news for us on this saturday afternoon in egypt where again, according to state media there, the prime minister there saying they are considering a new constitutional declaration. we will check in with you a little later, sir. thank you for the update. >>i want to bring in mona, the egyptian american journalist who's worked extensively in the middle east, currently based in new york. we had you on a week or two ago. first of all, let me get your initial reaction to what we just heard from ayman, that it appears as if president morsi may be changing his calculations just a bit based on what he has seen unfold in the streets of egypt. >> i think president morsi needs to change his calculations mh more than just a bit. he's finally listening to his own words. he's been saying over and over again this is not the old egypt. d early the hundreds of thousands of egyptians on the
street who were there to prote the revolution until it continues are sending a message not only must you amend this constitutional declaration, you must renounce all these super powers you have assumed for yourself. >> one of the interesting things, and ayman hit on it, is watching the military's role in all ofthis, the military now taking a center role again aling with these egyptians in the street is that move designed purely to intimidate? >> let me express something very simply p the muslim brotherhood and the military are on the same side. egypt is like a triangle. one is the military, one the islamists and the third and the most important for the people on the street is the revolution. the mill tanls and the brotherhood are on the same side. in the presidential elections, it was machiavellian genius to allow mohammed morsi to become present. they voted for him -- he only got 25% in the first round. they voted for hime other candi.
the military in this draft constitution that was rushed through last week has guaranteed a safe exit, no trial for human rights violations, has guaranteed no civilian oversight of his budget, and don't forget the military in egypt get $1.3 billion from washington, and washington currently supports our president. and washington, i have to add, is about to start supporting yet another dictator in egypt. hosni mubarak was supported by five u.s. presidents. we have a senior high-level brotherhood if i remember in d.c. lobbying. they do not want dictatorship. >> what's the next step in cairo? >> mohamed morsi's three m-- ha three mistakes. we need accountability for them. the people on the street will not go until accountability is reached, justice is reach and -- >> even if the draft constition is approved. >> this is the thing. he's saying you either approve the draft constitution or i'm
going to keep more powers than mubarak kept. this is a devil's choice. he must choose the revolution. as the people on the street have made clear. >> thank you very much. appreciate your insight as always. hope you'll come back as well. we will continue to update you on the situation there in cairo in the next two hours. meanwhile, back in washington, with just over three weeks left to make a deal on the fiscal cliff, both sides out with new statents today. and on the surface, they still sound far apart. president obama this morning saying he's going to insist on raising taxes on the wealthiest americans no matter what. >> if we're serious about reducing our deficit while still investing in things like education and research that are important to growing our economy, and if we're serious about protecting middle-class families, then we're also going to have to ask the wealthiest americans to pay higher tax rates. that's one principle i won't
compromise on. >> meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, republican senator marco rubio gave the weekly republican address today. part of his message? the tax rate should not go up on anyone including the top 2%. >> we must reform our complicated, uncertain, job-killing tax code by getting rid of unjustified loopholes. but our goal should be to generate new revenue by creating new taxpayers, not new taxes. >> joining me, author of "the escape artists: how obama's team fumbled the recovery." david nakamura is with us, as well, from "the washington post." good to see you. what's your read on this, first of all, both sides publicly giving the impression they are sticking to their guns? >> yeah. i think in the past week you've seen some movement in the gop, some acknowledgment that the rates for the very wealthy are going to have to come up. it may not be all the way up to
the 39.6% where they were under bill clinton before the bush tax cults but i think you're seeing some element of pragmatism, some understanding that obama really does hold the cards having campaigned on this, having won re-election, having, you know, the sort of default being on his side, which is that all these things go away at midnight on december 31st. i think you are starting to see some movement despite the rhetoric. the question is really i think for obama, you know. i think -- he will have a deal available to him to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, i think, in exchange for raising rates a bit. the question is, is it a good enough deal or does he just say it's not a good enough deal, i can get a better deal by going over the cliff and i prefer to do that? because you guys haven't moved toward me enough. >> david, the sentiment noam expressed is the same we heard from tim geithner a few days ago. we've had a number of congressmen on this show who have said the same thing.
it does seem at least that the sentiment may be shifting from, you know, two or three weeks ago absolutely, no way, not going to go over the cliff, and now you have a lot of folks who are starting to say, hey, you know what, we might go over the cliff. >> absolutely. there's several leading democrats who are sort of pushing the white house to do just that. now, the white house's line is we don't want that. the president has spent this time in the past two weeks meeting with constituents, stake holders and this. he's heard from business leaders, big-level ceos and small business leaders that they want certainty and not to have to go through this again and again. i think that is the message the white house wants to put out there and regardless of whether they come to, like, a full agreement on the taxes or where whether they push it off, i think the white house is trying to be consistent and hold the line and make republicans come to them. >> noam, one of your latest articles, the headline, "dear mr. president, please don't negotiate over the debt ceiling. please." you've read about mistakes the white house has made in the past. your book is about how it fumbled the recovery. what do you think the
administration has learned from those mistakes? >> yeah. i think they've learnedui a bit. i've been pretty impressed with the way they've handledhis so far. the biggest mistake, the administration says it themselves, do not negotiate with yourself. make an offer, make an opening offer that gives you a little troom move down the road. and then allow the ore e side to make their counter offer. p administration has been very good. tim geithner did all the sunday show last week and said we condition but the republicans' offer on the table for them. they have to tell us what they want and don't want and then we can respond. the problem on the republican side is in their heart of hearts they want entitlements to be cut, want social security cuts, medicare cuts, but they know those are very unpopular so they don't want to put that offer in writing, put it on the table where they can get a lot of criticism. i think the administration has learned don't do that work for them, you know. >> the idea is we'll put a number out there, oh, we want $800 billion and we'll do the math later. >> right. you know, the republicans are
smart. they want the political cover from a democratic administration that says, okay, well, we want to cut medicare, too, but there's no reason for the administration to give them that cover. >> david, how strong is john boehner right now within his own party? >> that's interesting, craig. look back a year and a half ago with the debt ceiling negotiations, looked like the republicans won that, president had low approval ratings after that. but boehner had to learn a lesson there, too, because he was outmaneuvered with the majority leader. i think he's trying to consolidate his power. the white house has put out since that time a year and a half ago that they don't believe boehner can control thiz conservative party wing. he wants to speak with one voice, his. he's moved to get rid of those working against him. what's really interesting is is yesterday he came out and made it sound like he might be open to raising taxes. he quickly then backtracked. so even his own voice may not be as consistent as he liked. >> noam, if we go over this
cliff, what happens to this debate? >> this is why i think the white house will ultimately seriously think about going over. if we go over the cliff, all the rates obviously go back to their clinton era levels. it gives the white house an enormous amount of leverage, right, because now the top two rags rise to their maximum level, the white house can come back and just propose a bill that would cut everything, cut tacks for the middle class and leave the top rays in place. it will be very did i feel for republicans to oppose that. it will become clear this line about holding middle class tax cuts hostage for wealthy tax cuts. it will be very concrete at that point. the leverage the white house has will only grow at that point. >> always a pleasure, gentlemen. whatever the supreme court decides, it's being called a watershed moment for the fight for marriage equality in this country. we'll look at the political
implications of this potential sea change. plus, syria on edge. the fighting there has reportedly killed some 40,000 people now. we'll talk to a top expert on the region. that's copping up as well. first, though, he spen the last seven years walking the halls of the house. now he's headed home. connie mack moving out. before he does it, he gives his final thoughts. it will be his exit interview next. [ female announcer ] caroline penry began using olay total effects in 2001. since then, there's been one wedding, 2 kids, and 43 bottles of olay total effects. so in spite of 185 tantrums 378 pre-dawn starts and a lot of birthdays, caroline still looks amazing. you can challenge what's possible thanks to the trusted performance of olay.
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connie mack is the outgoing representative from florida's 14th district, the four-term republican, lost his seat in november to democratic incumbent bill nelson. congressman mack also of course married to congresswoman mary bono mack. she represents the palm springs area of california. she also lost her bid for re-election. congressman mack joins us from our msnbc exit interview. good sat to you, sir. >> great to be with you. thanks for having me on. >> go ahead. you were about to say? >> i'm not sure i like the "exit interview," but i guess it is what it is, right? >> it is. turn in your card cue before you leave. you represent a portion of florida. your wife represents a portion of california. the common ground for both of you, washington, d.c. many former lawmakers, of course you know this, they head straight to k street. are you likely to stay in d.c., becoming a lobbyist, something that might be under consideration? >> you know, we're still trying to figure that out. i mean, obviously, i decided to
leave my congressional seat to run for the senate in hopes that we would win. that didn't happen. and so we're trying to figure out what we do next and where we go. we haven't ruled anything out. but we also haven't made any firm decisions, and that's about as slippery as a politician can get for an answer. >> you may be leaving the house of representatives, but you still have the ability to sidestep a question with the best of them. >> craig, we really don't know yet. >> okay. >> we are looking at all kinds of options. and, look, we still want to make sure that we also continue to have a voice, because we believe passionately about our country and the direction that we're going in. >> let's talk about one of the issues this country is going to deal with in the not so distant future, probably going to the top of the legislative agenda in the next few months, immigration, of course. junior senator from your state from florida, marco rubio,
telling politico's mike allen that immigration needs to be tackled issue by issue. take a listen. >> i think it needs to be dealt with comprehensively but not in a comprehensive bill. a comprehensive package of bills. the reason that's important is because each issue has their own constituencies and deserve to be dealt squarely for what they are. i think there's consensus on almost all of them. >> first of all, is that the best approach? and second question, which immigration issues do you feel are the most pressing? >> you know, i think marco was right on. that would be the best way to move forward. unfortunately, in washington, boast both in the house and the senate and the white house, they want to use those constituencies against each other to try to get more of what they want in the bill. the best way to do it would be to take each of the issues separately, deal with them, have open discussion and debate about them, and let the process work.
but my guess is those that are at the top -- i'm talking about the leadership in both parties and both sides -- are going to use those constituencies to try to create something that frankly neither side is going to want. >> let's talk about your party for a quick second before i let you get out of here. what does the future of the gop look like? and who is going to be the leader of your party two years, four years from now? who are some of the leaders going to be? >> you know, i think as our party we've got to understand that when we talk about issues and we talk about the things that are important to us and to the country, to the people of this country, that we connect with them. so if we start off, let me give you this example. on the immigration issue. if you start off referring to everybody as illegal, guess what, it's going to be really difficult to get their votes if you refer to everybody as illeg illegal. we need to have a -- >> but congressman, that's a commonsense kind of thing. that has to be something that
has been discussed at a republican party. >> you would think. right? but what do we hear from both sides? there's rhetoric on both sides that is not helpful in this process. i think as we move forward as a party, we need to recognize that we need to do a better job of explaining why it is that we believe less government is better and more individual responsibility and freedom for the individual is better. and if we do that, we will get the young vote, the women vote, the hispanic vote, the minority vote, you name it. we'll get it if we can explain it. if we continue to use the rhetoric that we've been using and not explaining -- >> it's the message. >> i believe it has a lot to do with the message and looking the american people in the eye and telling them what the problem is and how we think we can fix it. >> i know that you follow the former governor, mr. crist, i know you follow him on twitter. he of course announced during a visit to the white house he is now a proud card-carrying member
of the democratic party. let me just get your reaction to that. first of all, are you surprised at all? >> i'm not surprised. but i would have to say this -- what a lonely place to announce that you've switched parties, to do it over twitter. i mean, i think he's finding himself with he doesn't have really a constituency on the right or the left or in the middle. and so i thought it was sad, frankly. >> before i let you get out of here, 10, 15 seconds, what are you going to miss most about those hallowed halls? >> you know, i enjoyed the opportunity in the congress to debate the ideas and issues that are important to me, important to my district. i'm going to miss not being in that fight, if you will, to really lay out to the congress and to my colleagues an approach that i think we can balance the budget by cutting 1% of spending a year for five years. we balanced the budget. it's -- everybody that's watching this show has had to
take more than one penny out of every dollar if their home budget or business budget and the federal government should be required to do the same thing. >> congressman connie mack on message. thank you so much from florida's 14th district. we appreciate your time this afternoon, sir. >> thank you, craig. >> south african icon, global icon, nelson mandela in the hospital on this saturday afternoon. we will bring you the very latest on his condition. first, though, high times in the evergreen state. what washington's decision to let people light up will mean now that the feds say they're not budging one bit on enforcement. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles military families face, we understand. at usaa, we know military life is different. we've been there. that's why every bit of financial advice we offer is geared specifically to current and former military members and their families. [ laughs ]
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tomorrow, washington state will usher in same-sex marriage to hundreds of gay and lesbian couples expected to exchange vows in mass weddings. coming up, more on the supreme court's decision to take up same-sex marriage and what it might mean for president obama. meanwhile, after decades of the war on drugs and almost a million marijuana-related arrests every year, the possession of pot is now legal in washington state. but the new law is also setting the stage for a new showdown with the feds. more now from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> four, three, two, one! whooo! >> reporter: at seattle landmarks, a celebration. [ cheers ] >> reporter: washington state's new law makes it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. >> the fist legal imported in washington state. >> reporter: the initiative, passed in the november election, is modeled on alcohol laws. it's still illegal to drive if impaired or possess pot if
you're under 21. and technically you're not allowed to smoke in public. though seattle police received a directive to issue verbal warnings only. this is what you can legally possess, one ounce. you can use it in private but stores still won't be licensed to sell it for recreational use for another year. so without a prescription there is still no sale. recreational users are going to say where am i going to go to buy this marijuana? if it's illegal to sell marijuana still. >> reporter: federal law still prohibits marijuana use in any state, and the department of justice is reviewing possible actions. >> the federal government might prosecute anyone who uses marijuana on federal land, parks and courthouses. it could also go after the large-scale growers who supply marijuana to stores and it could block their access to banks. >> just say no! >> reporter: but attitudes toward pot may be changing. where just say no once filled screens, now shows like "weeds" portray pot as a suburban
staple. in a new quinnipiac pole, americans favor legalization. >> i think cigarettes and alcohol are a lot more dangerous. >> i personally don't do that, you know, i don't, you know, encourage my kids to do that either. >> reporter: next month, colorado will make possession legal there. while at least five other states are expected to take up the matter soon. the debate is just getting fired up as washington state now tries to navigate the still hazy logistics of legalizing pot. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, los angeles. folks, we have some developing news, some breaking news, in fact, that we are following in texas where dallas cowboys defensive lineman josh brit now facing an intoxication manslaughter charge, all of this coming after a car accident that killed cowboys linebacker jerry brown, a member of the team's practice squad. police are saying that this accident happened about 2:20 this morning in the dallas
suburb of irving, texas. officers at the scene were being told -- officers at the scene believed that alcohol was a contributing factor in that crash. he was asked to perform some field sobriety tests. based on the result of those tests along with the officers' observations and some conversations, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. this is developing news out of texas. dallas cowboys defensive lineman josh brint facing an intoxication manslaughter charge. linebacker jerry brown, a member of that team's practice squad, is dead. at this point no comment from the cowboys team as of yet. more on the story as we continue to gather more information right here on msnbc. you ever notice that some people just have a knack
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lineman josh brit. he is now facing an intoxication manslaughter charge after a car accident that killed linebacker fellow cowboys football player, killed linebacker jerry brown, a member of that team's practice squad was in the car with him. police say that accident happened about 2:20 this morning in the dallas suburb of irving, texas. rat this point, no comment from the cowboys football team, but again, moments ago we've received this mug shot from officials there in irving, texas. this again, dallas cowboys defensive lineman josh brit. now facing an intoxication manslaughter charge. we will update you as soon as we learn more. developing news in south africa, as well. nelson mandela is in the hospital on this saturday afternoon. doctors are performing medical tests. we were told these tests had been planned for some time. and they are consistent with his age. he is 94. according to a statement
released by south africa's president, the former president is said to be doing well. this is not a big deal. a family friend, however, saying they don't have any information. nelson mandela did spend some time in the hospital earlier this year. he had stomach surgery. clashes continue around the syrian capital of damascus today. nbc news is reporting that the assad regime may be preparing to use chemical weapons against rebels now. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engle reports from syria's board we are tokyo. >> the fighting in damascus is intense. rebels in the streets gaining ground. a car bombing in the capital. a military barracks nearby, rebels claim, overrun. and the road to damascus airport
syria's main international link cut off. this war 21 months in is now moving fast. as rebels advance, they're capturing syrian tanks and seizing new weapons, able to shoot down helicopters. even fighter jets challenging the regime's air superiority. in the capital bread lines in what has been the regime's stronghold. more lines in aleppo and little power. though assad still has the upper hand. rebels worry that the increasingly desperate dictator will resort to chemical weapons. that would be catastrophic for syrians and intolerable to syria's neighbors. chemical gas could drift across borders. neighboring turkey asked for and will get patriot missiles from naito, able to shoot down incoming rockets or aircraft. the assad regime says using chemical weapons would be suicide. the fear is that assad may soon have nothing to lose.
>> richard engle in turkey on the border. i want to bring in mark katz, professor of government and politics at george mason university. he is also the author of "leaving without losing: the war on terror after iraq and afghanistan." dr. katz, good to have you with us on this saturday afternoon. the former u.s. ambassador to syria, theodore kotoof writing in the daily beast, "the best hope to avoid syria becoming a failed or radical islamist state is for the russia and u.s. to cooperate." you write that russia may be shifting its pro-assad position. at this point, do you think that russia leadership and the united states can get together on syria? >> you know, i think that the russians now understand that the regime probably isn't going to survive. however, i don't think that the russians are going to get actively involved with us in any effort to militarily intervene
in syria. i think that their hope is to protect their interests, that if there's going to be a new regime, that they keep their investments and naval facilities, but i don't think they're going to join with us in getting involved. >> what do we know about the scope, the size, and the variety of the syrian chemical -- of their chemical weapons stash? >> well, in that -- the syrians, of course, have denied they don't have any. that there's not that public information revealed about i, but i think it's pretty clear. they do have a chemical weapons stash, and whatever it is it's too much and too damaging for anyone's comfort. >> the united states has warned president assad's regime not to of course use those weapons at all on ats own civilian population. to this point the regime has said that it will not. how prepared is the united
states to stop that regime from using chemical weapons? >> well, i'm not sure that we can actually stop them. i think that, you know, these things, they can be used. but i think that it's not clear that the assad regime is about to use them. they might be trying to move them to the coast. the mediterranean coast is where the alawite my noer, which is what the regime is based on, basically has its population center. and i think what they may be trying to do is to move these chemical weapons and whatever else they can to the coast, survive as a mini state and of course deprive their opposition access to these as well. so it's not clear to me yet that they're actually intending to use them even though they are starting to move them. >> for a while, the thinking was that this ragtag group of rebels was not going to be able to take down the regime. they were unorganized, some inphiing. but more recently they appear to
have sort of come into their own. what's the latest on the rebel faction in syria? >> well, i think that they're as divided as ever, and i would imagine the closer they get to victory that -- the closer they get to the downfall of the regime that we're going to see more divisions. in other words that even when they have a common goal of getting rid of assad they haven't been able to unite and once he's gone then i think it's going to become even more divided. so there is a real possibility of conflict among the rebels, and i think that this is where american diplomacy, diploma is si with other countries, international orngss is is going to be essential. >> i want to turn to afghanistan here quickly as american forces plan their final withdrawal from that country. there were some harsh words for the united states from afghanistan's president hamid karzai saying that the u.s. is partly to blame for the instability in afghanistan. this is what he said in an exclusive interview with our
atiyyah bali. >> part of it is coming from the structures that nato and america built in afghanistan, the private security firms, the contracts they promoted and the way they behaved with the afghan people and the anger that has caused in afghan people and the resulting insecurity. >> so would you say you believe some of these would be intentional insecurity brought by nato and the united states? thoo there is a very strong perception that some of that insecurity is intentional, yes. >> what do you make of president karzai's comments there? >> well, certainly he's not going to make any friends here in the united states after we've gone to such effort to help afghanistan, help him in particular. that said, i believe that the views he's expressed are, in fact, widely held within afghanistan, that he is
reflecting afghan popular sentiment, that unfortunately they're long past the point where they regard the american presence as liberators but more as occupiers and unfortunately they see us going and so there's no reason to be friendly toward us anymore. >> author and professor mark katz, thank you so much, professor katz. do appreciate your time. >> thank you for having me. coming up, what's the weirdest thing the president has ever gotten for christmas? fruitcake? weird tie? nope. stay tuned. [ male announcer ] with 160 more miles per tank, the distances aren't getting shorter. ♪ the trucks are going farther. the new 2013 ram 1500.
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clean up from hurricane sandy. politicians from as far away as georgia travel to staten island to help local congressman michael grimm help his residents. hurricane sandy struck more than a month ago. and during the height of the gift-giving season a new website is outlining the weirdest gifts president obama has gotten. on the list, 50 pairs of boxer briefs from david beckham's line, a donkey from a cluster bomb -- colombian town. but the strangest thing? insurance against crocodile attacks. it came from an australian official. still to come, the supreme court ready to weigh in on same-sex marriage. what a decision could do to politics surrounding this hot-button issue. the truth about mascara is... it clumps. introducing a revolutionary new mascara. clump crusher...crusher. 200% more volume. zero clumps.
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the court said late friday it would take up two cases blocking same-sex marriage. the rulings could decide if it's constitutional for a state to deny same-sex couples the right to marry under the law, and the court could also decide whether guy and lesbian married couples can be denied federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive. back with david nakamura, the white house reporter for the "washington post." david, what is the feeling inside the white house? is the president hopeful? is he worried? >> craig, i think it's a little bit tricky in the sense that we all know the president came out, the first time a president has done this, done it in the spring, the first time a president supported guy marriage. that was a big relief to the guy and lesbian community and activists, and certainly helped him with that win during the election. on one hand, the white house probably wants the supreme court to take up the issue of whether federal entitlements can be
denied to same sex couples. the president says he is not going to enforce the law. he does not believe it's constitutional. on the other hand, the president has not come out and really made clear how he feels about this laws that deny the whole idea of guy marriage, although he supports the topic, what would the administration do on this, where does he stand on that in particular, and he is going to be pressed on this. >> david, i thought the president said that he would enforce the law, but just would not defend the law. >> he would not defend the law, absolutely. >> i just want to make sure that i wasn't mistaken. noam, when he endorsed same-sex marriage, take a listen on the other side. >> at a certain point, i just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. >> now here is the thing. he stopped short there of saying that the constitution actually guarantees same-sex couples the
right to marry. he said it was best left to the states in the short-term. is there pressure now on the president to clarify his position? >> yeah, you know, it's an interesting question. david used the term evolving. i think that's the right term for the president. he really has been tentative and slow and very cautious and careful as he has weighed in on this issue, even when he took a fairly bold position ultimately in the run up to the election. what is amazing to me, even as the president is undergoing kind of evolution, the country is sort of undergoing a revolution. i mean, if you look at public opinion in the 2008 election, it was kind of 55-35 against guy marriage, versus 35 in favor. and those numbers not entirely reversed, but pretty close. in 2012, the exit polls showed a 49-46 in favor of guy marriage. so that's more than a 20-point reversal in just a single election cycle. it's quite remarkable. and i think what you see now is the president is really kind of
lagging public opinion here. quite starkly, i would say. and what is interesting is academics, i think, legal academics often debate whether the supreme court kind of gets out slightly ahead of public opinion or follows public opinion. but in this case, public opinion is so far out in front of where this political and legal establishment is. it's almost like they just have to the extent they think about this have to worry about getting sort of completely swamped by public opinion in this case. >> david, here is the other thing. and we were talking about this yesterday in the newsroom. you've got the high court now taking up the two same-sex marriage cases. last year it was health care. this session, they're also going to take up the voting rights act, 1965. they're also going to consider affirmative action in higher education admissions. it seems as if, david nakamura, this court may be going out of its way to make sure that the court itself has a chapter in constitutional law books.
>> absolutely. it's a historic time. especially on some of the social and racial issues. and that's a big step for them. you know, it's interesting. i remember the president warning at times about an activist court. he doesn't want to see them overstep their bounds. but i think as noam sort of mentioned, these issues are going to push the president to come out. he did so. we'll see how the administration tries to take that and sort of approach that, because we saw even last spring they sort of fumbled it when vice president got out in front of the president. and was that design or was that a mistake, a gaffe. i think as we get to that time when the court is going to take this up in the summer, you know, we'll see how they approach it. but i think they're going to have to have a strategy. >> noam scheiber, david nakamura. thanks for your time. >> do appreciate you. >> thanks for having me. next up, disastrous consequences. that's the warning this afternoon from the egyptian military. if the crisis in cairo is not --
we'll go live to the capital. does it make sense to just eliminate the debt ceiling thing all together? just do away with the debt ceiling? we're going to talk about it. it's something that new york congressman jerry nadler is proposing. congressman nadler is going to join us on this afternoon as well. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. ♪ said hey, honey, take a walk on the wild side ♪ [ loud party sounds ] hi, i'm ensure clear... clear, huh?
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around the world who are living along the coast. plus, the cannabis conundrum. we're going to talk about the states where you are allowed to light up and what the feds are prepared to do about it. first, breaking news in texas where dallas cowboys tackle josh brent is now facing an intoxication manslaughter charge, this after a car accident that killed linebacker jerry brown, a member of the cowboys practice squad. police say the accident happened about 2:20 this morning in the dallas suburb of irving, texas. joining me now on the telephone is clarence hill. he covers the cowboys for the ft. worth star telegram. clarence, first of all, pick up the story from there. what else can you tell us? >> well, the newest thing we realized this is not josh brent's first run-in within alcohol-related traffic accident or a traffic incident. he was arrested in february 22nd, 2009 for driving under the
influence. it was at college in illinois and suspended indefinitely. his sophomore season, he did return for a junior season before coming out in the draft and drafted by the cowboys in the seventh round of the 2010 supplemental draft. >> what else can you tell us about the circumstances that led up to the crash? >> well, they were at a popular spot that a lot of people go to saturday night, club privee in dallas. they were having a good time. when they left they were on their way home. when the accident occurred, he was driving at a high rate of speed, lost control and hit a curve. the car flipped over at least one time before landing in the middle of the road. and brent was responsive. his teammate jerry brown was unresponsive. he was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. and two guys were in the car
together likely because brown also went to the university of illinois for college to play football before joining the cowboys a little over a month ago. i'm sure considering both illinois guys that brent probably took him under his wing. he had been with the cowboys a couple of years and took him under his wing. that's why they arrived together in the same car together. and you know, that kind offed throw the incident. >> all right, clarence hill, thank you so much for your time. there is a news conference happening right now. if we learn more information, we will pass it along to our viewers. we did just get a statement a few moments ago from jerry jones, the owner, the president, the ceo of the dallas cowboys. the statement saying in part, we are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of jerry brown. at this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of jerry's family, and all of those who knew him and loved him. we will continue to update this story as we get new information. we also will continue to follow new developments overseas and the crisis in egypt. egyptian state tv reporting that
the prime minister could soon issue a new constitutional declaration. it's hoped that the compromise could bring an end to the tension that has been sweeping that country. earlier today the country's military issued washes to demonstrators. military lead sayers, quote, disastrous consequences could arise if the tens of thousands of opposing demonstrators across the country can't resolve their differences peaceably. for the very latest, i want to bring in our man who is in cairo, what is the very latest. >> reporter: well, the atmosphere around the palace, which is the republic palace, the public palace is calm. people have been camped out for the better part would have two days. they have camped out with tents and blankets for the past two nights. the military still maintains a presence there. they have erected concrete barriers as they have in other
parts of the city throughout the transitional period. the situation remains calm. supporters of the president from the muslim brotherhood and islamist conservatives have set up their own protests outside a media production city here. and they're protesting in support of the president in front of the media to try to show that the president and his decree still have support. so it's a very polarizing time for the country. the only thing that is safe to say that in the past 48 hours, there has been an easing of the violence that we saw on tuesday and wednesday that killed six people and injure in order than 700. craig? >> how does the army's presence in all of this on the ground there, how does the army's presence change the dynamic of this situation? >> well, they've definitely had at least in the immediate aftermath of the violence on wednesday, a calming effect. their presence around the republican palace was able to separate the protesters and the opponents. keep in mind that the protesters who oppose the president arrived to the presidential palace several days ago. they maintained a very peaceful protest. it was only when supporters of
president mohamed morsi arrived on tuesday and wednesday that there was violence. the military for its part is saying it is on the side of the people. it is remaining neutral. and that really has some people edgy in terms of what the military could possibly do in the coming days and weeks if the situation is not resolved peacefully. >> athank you. appreciate your work. born in israel, grew up in arab east jerusalem. meanwhile, in washington we have a the anwar sadat professor of peace and development at the university of maryland. professor, let me start with you. i want to get your initial take on these latest developments out of cairo. what do you make of them? >> well, i think obviously it's a very dangerous situation, and there was a threat that the military could intervene. i doubt it very much.
there is a norm that has emerged since the overthrow of mubarak that the state and the government and the military shouldn't interfere. and there is a fear of that. so i doubt that that will happen. it is clear that the stalemate continues. they're moving toward possibly delaying the referendum on december 15th. but the real question is will there be a new decree or an amendment to the presidential decree, and will there be a way to modify the constitutional draft before it comes before the referendum. all of that is still uncertain at this point. >> if the reports of the new constitutional declaration are accurate, how will that affect the standoff that we have seen play out, play out in the streets this in cairo? >> i think if the president doesn't back off, and he seems to be -- mohamed morsi shows how stubborn he is. as flexible as he showed us with dealing with gaza and the israelis, he has shown to his own people his real face and how
stubborn. and especially how his agenda is an islamist one. you know, to become a president in egypt after 30 years of mubarak, the only thing you could do to people, especially people that distrusted the muslim brotherhood is to include them and make them feel safe and protected, especially minorities, christians, sec lars. he avoided all of that. and when people walked away from the constitution assembly, he didn't call them back. he didn't sit down with them. he actually insisted and wanted to shove in their throat a constitution that is islamist-led. i don't think he will back up. unfortunately, i predict to see more and more protesters in the streets. he will continue. and even his people went on television yesterday the day before saying that these protesters are thugs. these protesters are actually people that are paid from outside. and he is using the same propaganda that mubarak used. >> professor, in the simplest of terms for folks who are watching right now who may not be following the story as closely as the three of us, what is the
primary qualm with president morsi's constitution? >> well, first of all, there are two problems. one problem is the decree itself, which obviously gave him powers and immunity, making certain decisions. he says it's temporary. but people are -- you know, the memory of the mubarak regime is still there. it's very difficult. the second is actually the content of the constitution itself. you had a lot of people who are on the liberal side who see it as too close to the islamist agenda. and that's really the issue. i think it's at the core, the islamist agenda that is worrying people. but i have to say in reaction to rula that, yes, there are a lot of people in egypt among the demonstrators who certainly fear that there is an imposition of the islamist agenda, and there are people who may have voted for morsi because they didn't want to vote for his opponent. they didn't want the mubarak remnant regime to take over again. but now the fear for the
constitution limiting freedoms in egypt. but there are also, and i think the fear that morsi may have are legitimate. there are people who simply want to bring him down as a member of the muslim brotherhood. and many of those people may also be the ones who are more violent in the activism. so while this is broader, and therefore morsi has to worry about it, it's really a mixture of the two. >> rula, this is what you want to jump in there? >> i actually think that professor, he is totally right. the thing that they're concerning about this decree, he not only puts himself above the law, he said i will eventually once this decree, this constitution will be ratified, i will take it up. but he didn't say the timing. he didn't set up the timing. and he sent his own people on television attacking not only the protesters, the leader of the secular movement, the leaders of the christian coptic church. he is not showing any kind of remorse for the people that died or the people that were injured. and he is not saying anything about women's rights, minority
rights. i mean at least show some kind of adjustment or some kind of, you know, mediation with these groups. >> you contend that all of this is part of an effort to impose political islam on the egyptian people. do you think that he is close to doing that now? >> he will never be close. he has been delusional and in denial not to see the millions -- the millions of people that protested and actually got rid of hosni mubarak. the same people, maybe not millions, maybe thousands went in the street and warned him, told him, mr. presid don't want another dictator. what we want, a democratic system. the muslim brotherhood got elected not because they were islamists, they got elected because they did the social work that mubarak didn't do. they gave scholarships. they afford health care. they actually took care of people, gave them loans, and many other things. all that charity that they did wasranslated and transferred into voting. but when you go to, you know,
the parliament and you become president, and also the majority of the parliament, and you tell people i want 20 impose on you islam, here the people will tell you no. and i think one of the most important and beautiful things about this revolution, the people didn't stop believing in the revolution and in the principles of democracy, dignity and a better live. >> rula jebreal, we're going to have to leave it there. >> thank you. >> i will i do hope you will come back. i appreciate you. nelson mandela is in the hospital this saturday afternoon. more on his condition straight ahead. first, though, republicans say don't you dare. democrats propose doing away with the debt ceiling all together. we're going to talk to one of those democrats next. this is msnbc, the place for politics. ♪ [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles military families face, we understand.
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now to the fight in washington over the fiscal cliff if lawmakers do not make a deal before january, the country will face a mixed bag of tax hikes and drastic spending cuts that could send the economy reeling. today on msnbc's weeks with alex witt, elijah cummings from maryland said he is getting more hopeful. >> three days ago i would have said that the chances of something being worked out were at best 20%. i feel a little bit more comfortable believing that something is going to be worked out. and give it about a 70% chance. the fact that boehner and the president have pretty much gotten to a point where they'll be sitting down, trying to work this out as opposed to a lot of cooks in the kitchen, i think that's helpful. >> with me now, joe nadler,
democrat from new york. congressman, good saturday afternoon to you. thanks for coming. >> good afternoon. >> you just heard your colleague from maryland saying 70% chance that a deal gets done. what say you? >> i don't know. i just hope that if a deal is done, it is a reasonable deal. i won't vote for any deal that cuts social security or that reduces benefits to medicare. and i hope no one else will either. >> let's talk about reducing benefits to medicare. when you talk about reducing benefits, are you talking about having wealthier americans pay higher premiums? >> wealthy americans already pay higher premiums, considerably higher premiums if you're earning more than $65,000. increasing that a lot, increasing that in any substantial way would really hit the middle class in a way we shouldn't do. >> so with regards to entitlement reform, what are you willing to do? >> i don't think there ought to be entitlement reform right now. entitlement reform is medicare and social security. and frankly, social security is fine. it is not -- it shouldn't even
be discussed in the deficit because it doesn't add to the deficit. medicare we have in the obama care we put into reform. i mean, the republicans just finished telling us that it was terrible that we cut $716 billion out of medicare, and that was terrible. now they want to add a lot more cuts. i think that the cuts we made in medicare were enough. they should not impact beneficiaries. and we shouldn't do anything that will at this point. those cuts may very well over a long period of time put medicare on a sustainable basis. we shouldn't do anything further to medicare until whether we see that works out. >> but you acknowledge a deal is not likely to get done without some reforms to entitlements. >> i do not acknowledge that and if a deal doesn't get done, it doesn't get done. >> you're prepared to go over the cliff as well? >> absolutely. >> it sounds -- >> it's not a cliff, by the way. and understand this. people keep talking about the republicans deliberately created this emergency. in order to blackmail the country. and the emergency here, the cliff so-called, is not a deficit.
the emergency is that we're going to reduce the deficit too fast, too far by reducing spending too much, too fast, and increasing taxes. and that will hurt the economy, which it will. >> but the president signed on this emergency as well. >> i don't agree with him. and he did it under blackmail. because, remember, this was all as a consequence of the republicans said last year that they wouldn't raise the debt ceiling. you don't raise the debt ceiling, the economy collapses. and it's sort of like a gangster movie where someone is saying to you, that's a nice business you got over there. pity if it should happen to be bombed. and that's what the republicans said about the economy. and they want to do it again with this cliff. and they want to do it again with the debt court of appealing in january. and we can't keep surrendering to that. >> i want to talk than. thank you for the analogy, by the way. you have called on congress to remove the debt ceiling altogether, to do away with it
entirely. >> yes. the debt court of appealing is entirely superfluous. what the debt ceiling says if you can't pay the bills. you certainly should have an intelligent debate over how much money you want to spend, what the tax level should be. and that either produce a balanced budget or a deficit, whatever. but the decisions that were made two and three years ago produced the necessity to raise the debt ceiling again. to say you're not going to raise the debt ceiling is to say you're going to default and that's going to collapse the economy. you can't do that. now, we have raised the debt ceiling 77 times since world war ii, seven times under the last bush administration. the normal pattern is the party without the president demagogues a little bit, but then everybody votes for it. to actually say we're not going to raise the debt ceiling and mean it is, again, to put a gun to the head of the economy. and there is no necessity for that ceiling. what you really want to do is balance your budget intelligently by adequate tax levels, by spending restraint. we did that under the clinton administration. well can do that again. but we shouldn't have this debt ceiling gun to our heads.
>> congress jan jerrold nadler, congressman from new york. thank you for stopping by. >> thank you. still to come, the results have been sealed for 15 years. we still do not know who, but we now do know what killed biggie smalls. a dire warning for those living near the coast. bill nye the science guy is going the break it down. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. ♪ begin.
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hmm, we need a new game. ♪ that'll save the day. ♪ so will bounty select-a-size. it's the smaller powerful sheet. the only one with trap + lock technology. look! one select-a-size sheet of bounty is 50% more absorbent than a full size sheet of the leading ordinary brand. use less. with the small but powerful picker upper, bounty select-a-size. i want toe update you now on the developing news on the health of nelson mandela. right now the former president is in a south african hospital. he is undergoing medical tests. the government there says that the procedures have been planned for some time, and that they are consistent with his age. that's their language. nelson mandela is 94. family, friend not saying how long he is going to be
hospitalized. but a government spokesman insist there's is, quote, no cause for alarm. mandela did spend some time in the hospital earlier this year for stomach surgery. new warnings this week about global warming and its potential impact on the world's population. a new report from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration found record melting of the icecap in 2012. and scientists say that the changes are affecting the climate and ecosystems worldwide. we want to bring in our friend, bill nye, the science guy to help us make sense of all of this. bill, always good to see you noaa painting a serious picture. how increased is the melting in the polar regions? >> i was starting with how serious was hurricane sandy? it was pretty serious, right? >> yeah. >> suppose you had two or three of those every year? it would be quite serious. the thing that is happening, the first thing is when the arctic
melts, the arctic now, the north pole, bear in mind the ice is floating. so if i say here is ice floating in a glass, what will happen hen that ice melts? many people think the glass will overflow. that turns out not to be true of floating ice. if you have ice falling off the greenland ice sheet and you add ice that we're doing here, then, yes, the glass will overflow. the other thing that is happening is when the water is frozen, it reflects light into space. this seems intuitive, but it's very serious when you have something as big as the arctic ice sheet. with climate change and forest fires, the ice sheets are getting covered with ash. and they reflect less light. and so they heat up even more. and the edges of the ice sheets melt even more. and then it falls off, it calves off even faster.
so this is a positive -- in engineer, we would say it's a positive feedback, but a negative consequence for humankind. because so many of us live near the coasts. and so in the case of hurricane sandy, a pretty small hurricane as hurricanes go, it caused tremendous damage because there is so much economic activity right this where the hurricane landed. >> let's talk about the politics of all of this. former president al gore chided president obama this week for failing to make climate change a priority. gore saying in new york on thursday, quote, i am grateful for the steps that he has taken. speaking of the president, but we cannot have four more years of mentioning this occasionally and saying it's too bad that the congress can't act. do you think that president obama is doing enough? >> well, he is doing i believe all he can. and -- >> what about the kyoto protocol? >> this is msnbc, for crying out loud. we have to get past the fiscal cliff. we had to achieve closure on
this last election. and now the president, in my understanding, my belief is now he can make his case that we can't continue to ignore this problem. and thanks to people like you, really, and the internet, the anti-science movement, which has been associated with the other side, and you guys use the term quite often, anti-intellectualism, that is falling out of favor. and for me, as a public figure and started with this age of the earth thing. the earth is not 10,000 years old, and the climate is changing. these things are related because they're both science ideas. now another serious thing for everybody to consider, as water gets warmer. >> really quickly with this prop, bill. >> this is a tube of water. if i hold my hands on it, it will get warmer, and the water will rise. as the ocean gets warmer, it expands. and so since we have so many people and so much economic activity on the shoreline, not just in the u.s., all over the
world, this will affect everybody in the world. and people have these dire consequences. and there is a lot to that. when 30 million people start leaving their homeland because it's flooded, these are going to be trouble. so what we want to do is act now. and that's what the former president gore was addressing. let's get it on it right now. >> bill nye the science guy. we always learn so much. do appreciate you as always. and thanks for making it so visual. have a great saturday. >> thank you. still to come, that surprise resignation in the senate. and now it has some major implications for balance of power on capitol hill potential. we'll talk about that. first, though, the voters voting for legalization, are the federal drug laws, are they going up in smoke? ari melber, my good friend and the rest of the brain trust will go behind the story next. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. ♪ the truth about mascara is... it clumps.
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an update now on that breaking news in texas, where dallas cowboys nose tackle josh brent is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge today. all of this after a car accident, a car accident that killed linebacker jerry brown, a member of that team's practice squad. police say the accident happened about 2:20 this morning in the dallas suburb of irving, texas. we got our statement from cowboys owner and president jerry jones, releasing that statement a short time ago, saying in part that he is deeply saddened, and that the team's thoughts go out to jerry brown's family. i'm craig melvin. welcome back. here is a quick look at some of the other top stories making news on this saturday. the uk is joining the united states in saying syria is now preparing to use chemical weapons. meanwhile, syrian rebels chose a former officer to lead their unified group.
the new commander had defected from the syrian military. also today, the syrian military dropped rockets on to damascus. under rebel control. the los angeles police department looking for new clues in the 15-year-old murder mystery of rapper notorious b.i.g. they're looking into biggie's death again. yesterday police released his autopsy for the first time, hoping to generate some new tips. but family says they want more information. the rapper died in a 1997 drive-by shooting in los angeles. and the second winner of last month's powerball jackpot has come forward, but is not showing his face. arizona lottery official says the winner claimed his prize, but decided to remain anonymous, which is allowed under state law there. the officials say the man is in his 30s and will walk away with a cool $192 million before uncle sam comes a knocking. turning back to domestic
politics now. pot smokers in washington state and colorado might now be free to light up, but how long is this going to last? not very long if the white house has its way. legalizing the recreational use of marijuana could become another issue pitting states against the federal government as it's still illegal, of course, in america to use. marijuana, all marijuana, to have marijuana, grow marijuana. so what are the implications? ari melber and correspondent for the nation with us. as always, to go behind the story. >> thanks, craig. well, in washington and colorado this week, new state laws did as you say go into effect that decriminalize marijuana. that means two states now allow pot for recreational use, plus another 16, which already allowed medicinal marijuana. this is a big shift in america's long war on drugs, which has operated to dramatically increase the number of people in prison for nonviolent offenses. since 1980, in fact,
incarcerated drug offenders increased tenfold. about 20% of all u.s. prisoners in fact are incarcerated for drug offenses, and studies show that racial minorities and poor americans are far more likely to be imprisoned for drug use. yet, while many people are cheering the new marijuana law, the obama administration is considering ways to crack down on the reforms. top officials are looking at how to use the federal government to reverse the impact of the new laws, according to a report in "the new york times." now the options include denying federal grants to states that legalize pot, aggressively prosecuting pot users in those two states under the federal laws, or most controversially, just taking these states to court. then the administration could get a formal ruling that the federal laws against pot just cancel out these new state laws. all those proposals are premised on fighting against the new politics and spirit that has been take hold in these states. but the obama administration could also embrace this as a moment to rethink the entire drug war.
it could ask congress to at least lower marijuana's current classification as a schedule 1 substance. that is the anachronistic and grave category for drugs like heroin, which have no prospect of safe or medical use. or look, the administration could do for pot what it did for children of undocumented workers, make a humanitarian policy decision to lower the priority of enforcing laws against them. the fact is we're living through a real opening here. after decades of the politics of the war on drugs, the focus on fear, on getting tough on people and marginalizing basically nonviolent offenders who pose little or no danger to other citizens, voters are finally moving on. the government should let them lead and get out of the way. >> did i just hear you correctly compare weed smokers to the children of illegal immigrants? >> you did. and from a federal perspective, it's an apt comparison because there are a lot of laws on the books, craig. the feds have to make a choice here about what our priorities are. i think they should listen to
what voters have said in these two states which is we've got bigger criminals to go after than people who are using drugs, at least some drugs like pot on a basis that doesn't get into any threats of any other citizens. >> all right. ari melber there taking us behind the story. washington state becoming the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana this week, reopening the debate we want to continue that debate right now. i want to bring in the rest of the brain trust. perry bacon. perry bacon has become a brain trust regular here. political editor for the grio, and an msnbc contributor as well. good to see you there in d.c. >> good to see you, craig. >> and my old friend joel sawyer, former director of the south carolina republican party. also former state director for presidential candidate jon huntsman. good to see you there, joel. >> good to see you too. >> i got ari's answer here. perry, i'll start with you. is the obama administration taking a considerable chance by taking a stand against weed states like colorado and washington state? >> i don't think they're taking
any kind of risk. i mean, in this issue, i think the politics are we talk about on every issue are important. but here the obama administration just does not support legalizing marijuana. obama has been asked about this over and over and over again in his four years. he is just not there yet, is what it sounds like to me. and therefore i'm not surprised that he is not allowing these states to legalize marijuana. ari mentioned the children of illegal immigrants. the difference is obama supports stopping deportations. as far as i know, he does not support allowing and legalizing marijuana use. that's just where it is. the advocates have not convinced the president to change his mind on the core issue yet. >> joel, why is that you think? is it pure politics at this point? is that why there hasn't been a tremendous groundswell of support? >> yeah, i mean, i think that's what it goes back. to you know, nobody wants to appear to be soft on drugs there is just connotations with that, regardless of what side of the political aisle that you're on. i come from the perspective this
is a state issue. there is no compelling reason that the federal government should be involved in marijuana regulation. should it be evolved down to the states. and if california and washington want to plot one course and other states want to plot another, that's fine. >> i think joel comes at that from probably a federalist position. but even as a republican, i would say joel's views here are to the left of president obama. that's what is so screwy about the way this debate is unfolding. >> this is one of those things where the -- >> go ahead, joel. >> this is one of the things where the far left and the far right meet around back. i mean, i come at this from a hard-core federalist perspective, which ends up with a guess sort of a nontraditional conservative view. >> i want to play a snippet here. this is former president bill clinton, who stars in a new documentary about the war on drugs in this country. this is what he had to say about his administration's attempt to limit drug trafficking in
colombia. take a listen. >> well, obviously, if the expected results was that we would have a -- eliminate serious drug use in america and eliminate the narco trafficking networks, it hasn't worked. >> that's a pretty powerful indictment there, perry bacon. why do you think that we won't see the obama administration as being the first administration since the '80s to give up this pseudo war on drugs? >> you know, they have taken some stones war on drugs. the one thing obama did in 2010 is he lowered the disparity between crack cocaine and cocaine. his view is this is a prevention matter and they're working on that. for whatever reason, i'm not sure why. if you go on the white house website, they have a long page about how marijuana use is bad, bad, bad, hurts your health, et cetera in the same way you can say about smoking. but they are just not there yet. i'm not sure why. a lot of liberals like he is going to change his mind in the next four years. and i'm not certain of that.
what you're seeing right now in colorado and washington tells you his mind is probably not changing on this issue. >> all right. brain trust, don't go anywhere. when we come back, apparently when he heard of jim demint's departure, your friend, joel sawyer, lindsey graham said he nearly fell off his couch. what the move means for the gop that is coming up a little bit later. high drama is about to surround the high court once again as the justices agree to take on the high stakes issue of same-sex marriage. what all of this means next for the brain trust, here on msnbc, the place for politics. you know how painful heartburn can be. for fast, long lasting relief, use doctor recommended gaviscon®. only gaviscon® forms a protective barrier that helps block stomach acid from splashing up- relieving the pain quickly. try fast, long lasting gaviscon®.
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the influence of outside forces, outside forces, the conservative movement. outside forces of the conservative movement, rather than the leaders themselves. "washington post" pointing out, quote, demint's decision marks a monumental change from a not so long ago era when abandoning a prime perch in the senate to head a think tank would have been unthinkable. but the past decade has shown influence that figures outside elected office, whether tea party leaders or antitax advocates grover norquist can have on the conservative movement. joel, does demint's departure mean that we're going to see an even stronger push by outside groups like the heritage foundation? >> well, you know, i dispute the hypothesis a little bit. outside of what? i view it all as part of one bigger, larger conservative movement. whether it's the heritage foundation or some of the other conservative groups out there, the elected leaders that they represent. you know, it's all one big conservative movement. so i do think that, you know,
the simple answer here is look, this is a once in a lifetime job. and i think that it really highlights the ability of jim demint to impact, you know, conservative ideas and electoral politics far past his time in the senate. >> you were plugged into south carolina politics more than anybody else here on the panel. let me get your quick take on the front-runner. is it tim scott, as most suspect it will be? >> you know, it's hard to say. a lot of it really depends on what the governor's goal. if she wants a place holder, i don't think that's the guy. if she wants somebody with a chance for electoral success going forward, i think tim scott makes a lot of sense there is a real downside to tim scott. if you're looking at someone with no electoral political downside, and certainly the historical significance of having an african-american republican in the senate. >> perry, you raise an interesting question i thought in your article on thursday on the grio. and i think we can put up a snippet here of that article that you wrote on the grio.
i think we have that. this it is right there. could tim scott become the black senator? i mean do you think that the governor goes with history versus loyalty? >> the key question here that joel brought up. does she want to pick a place holder and make the 2014 campaign a free-for-all where everyone gets a chance. but you're already seeing a lot of pressure from conservative activists. conservatives just lost an election in which they got about 5%, 7% of the black vote. obama got 93% there is going to be a lot of pressure on nikki haley. the republicans need some more prominent african-american figures. if they pick tim scott, that would give republicans one black senators and the democrats zero back senators that would be a big move. i don't think it means the black vote would go to the republicans. but it would be a huge symbolic move. for haley and the rest rest of the party, it would be a great thing. i think they're going to push haley hard to do that because of the symbolism behind it. >> have you ever had a conversation with tim scott? >> i have never had a
conversation with tim scott. does this take me out of the brain trust for this panel? >> have you ever had a conversation with tim scott? >> i have. >> is he senate material? >> sure. is he going to be elizabeth warren on public policy? i'm not sure. but i think in terms he'll fit in he knows the issues very well. he is very conservative. so he fits in very well with replacing a jim demint. certainly he is senate material, i think. >> i wasn't trying to set you up, by the way, either one of you. ari, what if anything does this mean for the gop establishment? >> number one, i thought it was interesting what joel said. once in a lifetime job to go to the heritage foundation. a lot of people feel going to the senate is a once in a lifetime job. >> you don't make a million bucks in the senate. >> it depends what you're ultimately interested in. and i think that speaks to some of the successes that conservatives have had. there is no doubt that the tea party had a big impact on the way politics was working in washington. and specifically, what the red lines were in the republican
party. grover norquist also an outsider, as you mentioned. clearly that works. the other piece about scott that i think is so interesting, even though as you pointed out, he is not on my cell we are not texting, we are not calling. >> but i would be the first to get up and give credit to a republican party that thought more about how to include minority voices in leadership. it's something they have struggled with. they should do it. and policy is important too there is a whole question around civil rights. i would argue way behind. but representation matters. jay-z famously said on his most recent album, when you see me, see you. politics works the same way. you want success to be shared. you want it to be represented. and i would urge the republicans to think long and hard about how to have a leadership structure that looks more like america. >> you just dropped the mic. i love it. i love it. more from the brain trust on the other side of this break as the supreme court is about to take up same-sex marriage. it is being called a watershed moment in the fight for marriage
this is a monumental action by the supreme court because we know they're going to say something about guy marriage for the first time ever. >> let's bring back the brain trust. one last time on this saturday. ari melber, perry bacon, joel sawyer. gentlemen, earlier we talked about the supreme court's decision to take on challenges to the defense of marriage act, also california's proposition 8. ari, could this be the last chance for opponents of same-sex marriage before president obama gets a chance to appoint a liberal judge? >> yeah, i mean look. this is very significant what the court has done here is decided to hear two cases that it didn't necessarily have to
hear. and what we have on the court potentially is a bit of a breakdown here. you've got justice scalia who in the lawrence v texas case famously said that the court was embracing the anti-anti-culture which by we the legal profession are too concerned about gays and not concerned enough about the serious religious views people hold. but the scalia court and all eyes will be on justice roberts on whether this is another area where he, another conservative jurist generally seeks to do something bigger and broader and create a press dent that can outlive i think some of the discrimination we've seen in this issue. >> perry, could a supreme court's decision in favor of same-sex marriage, could that decision force the president's hand in making same-sex marriage the law of the land? >> well, in some ways, he has already talked about how he favors guy marriage. i don't expect to see a congressional law signed by obama that makes guy marriage
legal. what i think is going to happen, if the court rules as a federal right to guy marriage, and that kind of ends the issue. but if it doesn't, guy marriage is moving forward in this country no matter what happens, no matter what the court does. by 2020, guy marriage will be legal in most states no matter what the court does. the public opinion has shifted on this issue, and i think that shift is permanent toward allowing guy marriage to happen. and the court are coming behind the issue on this. >> joel, many have asked members of its party to widen its tent and welcome nonconstitutional consistent sis including lbgt groups. should the supreme court issue a decision in favor of same-sex marriage, could that have any impact on the gop widening its so-called tent? >> yeah, i mean, a lot of it is depends on how far the court goes. you know, i sense there are probably going to be some unanswered questions to the whole guy marriage issue, even after this. look, the gop needs to be in the
business of multiplication and addition. reaching out to broadening consistencies is a good thing. >> we'll leave there it. joel sawyer, perry bacon, ari melber, the all male brain trust. don't read anything into it. we couldn't get a woman to join us on this saturday afternoon. great to have you with us today at home that does it for this hour. keep it here on msnbc for the very latest. i'll be back here at 3:00 eastern time tomorrow. and that will be after, of course, nbc's "meet the press." have a great saturday. coffees in seattle, and people seemed to like it. so we wondered -- where else could we take this? ♪ for over 40 years, we've brought our passion for fine coffee and espresso to people everywhere. but one place was impossible, until now. our lattes, espresso and brewed coffee, now in your home. the verismo™ system by starbucks.
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